August 27, 2009 -- Q: I've never attended a professional tennis match, but I'll be vacationing in New York during the U.S. Open this year and a friend offered me a ticket. How should I behave in the stands?
A: Tennis is one of the few sports known for extremely polite fans, so I can see how attending the U.S. Open would be intimidating if you're used to, say, the fans at Fenway! In general, if you take cues from the people around you, you'll be fine, but here are some specific tips:
- Tennis is genteel—even the crowd is expected to show good sportsmanship. No heckling, no booing and no cheering when the player you don't like screws up. - You're a grown-up—you can delay your trip to the potty until the players are changing sides.- You are not at a hockey game—no starting a "Hey ref, you suck" chant. (Also, FYI, the guy in the chair is the chair umpire, not the ref.)- You're also not at the World Cup. Don't be a hooligan in the streets after the match. (Although the idea of tennis hooligans is awfully amusing… remember the SNL skit?)- Turn off your cell phone. May anyone whose "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" ringtone goes off while Roger Federer is trying to serve enjoy a lengthy flight delay, courtesy of mating turtles, next time they fly out of JFK.
Q: Whenever I go to the bathroom in a restaurant and encounter an attendant, I'm startled. I'd expect it in private clubs or really swanky places, but they're popping up everywhere! What's the etiquette here?
A: Nobody expects bathroom attendants! (Much like the Spanish Inquisition.)
The typical situation is that they've commandeered all the paper towels, so after you wash your hands, they hand you one. For this, you must tip them. You're not allowed to get out of tipping by 1) not washing your hands (ew) or 2) leaving the bathroom with dripping wet hands and drying them on the tablecloth.
How much do you tip? Usually, a dollar. This entitles you to the paper towel and a piece of candy or a mint, should you want one. (However, I'm not sure food of any sort—even wrapped candy—should be consumed in a bathroom.)
If you partake of anything like hairspray, perfume, etc., leave a little more. And if the attendant offers to fix a ripped hem or sew on a button, as they did back in the day, tip generously.
However, if the attendant is just sitting there next to a tip plate, and doesn't even give you a paper towel, feel free to skip the tip.
Q: Someone got arrested recently for allegedly taking his clothes off on a plane. Sounds like he was trying to hit on the woman sitting next to him. Obviously, this is a very extreme case, but what should you do if your seatmate gets obnoxiously flirtatious?
A: If it's just talk, make it clear that you're not interested. Usually a reference to your spouse or significant other will do the trick. (E.g., "Nice weather, isn't it?" "My boyfriend likes weather." Okay, maybe not that overtly, but you get the idea.) If not, cut off the conversation—politely but firmly—pull out a book or your laptop, and put headphones on. If, however, anything turns creepy or physical, don't worry about being rude—get the flight attendants involved. They can reseat you and/or warn your seatmate that there will be consequences (like getting booted off the plane) if the harassment doesn't stop.
Lesley Carlin has been writing about travel and etiquette professionally for more than 10 years. As one of the Etiquette Grrls, she is the co-author of "Things You Need to Be Told" and "More Things You Need to Be Told" (Berkley). Have a travel etiquette question of your own? E-mail Lesley at firstname.lastname@example.org.